263 Theological Questions and Answers making theology accessible
- How do you think a person grows spiritually? What steps must he/she take? What keeps a person from growing spiritually?
- What do you think being a disciple of Jesus Christ means?
- Jesus said if a person wants to follow Him, he must take up his cross daily (Luke 9:23). Can you tell me what that looks like in your life?
- What areas of the spiritual life are you curious about? Do you have any lingering questions/concerns you’d like to discuss in particular?
- What have you learned about the role the Holy Spirit plays in a believer’s life?
- What is one specific step you can take today to turn away from your old sin nature and toward a more spiritual life (Galatians 5:16-17)?
- Are you taking temptation lightly or forgetting that every Christian is engaged in a spiritual battle? (Ephesians 6:11‐13)
- How would you define the grace of God? What place does God’s grace play in your life?
- Are you involved in a good, bible‐believing, local church?
- The Bible says that a disciple can’t serve both God and money. Would you mind talking about the financial part of your life in particular?
- Francis Chan describes a true believer as someone having “a posture of obedience and surrender, where a person perpetually moves toward Christ” (Crazy Love pg. 88). How would you describe your walk with Christ?
by Jim Mitchell
So I was thinking again about conflict resolution and about how my wife and I often have conflict about our conflicts. As I’ve confessed, our approach has been to find balance between us and to try to manage the conflicts better.
What I’m learning is that this is really a surface approach and that the real issue is something altogether different. Let me explain.
After watching my own kids fight, I’ve come to realize that as a parent I don’t really care to resolve childish disputes—who turned the TV channel or ate the last potato chip or interrupted the other person’s joke. Those details are tiresome, though my kids see them as critically important. What interests me is whether my daughter (eleven) is being compassionate and whether my son (six) is learning self-control.
Sure, I’d love for them to learn to be peacemakers. But in the end, if their hearts are right, I’m pretty sure most of their conflicts will be resolved accordingly. In other words, the actual conflicts look to me like kid stuff compared to the heart issues lying underneath.
And it dawns on me that the same is true of my heavenly Father. He asks of me, “Why is your heart toward her hard and not soft like Jesus?” But God, you don’t understand. I’ve told her a thousand times that I hate it when she… “Why are you angry and not self-controlled like Jesus?” Well, that’s tough because I’ve tried and tried but she just won’t quit… “Why are you being selfish and not selfless like Jesus?”
The conflicts, and the conflicts about the conflicts, look like kid stuff compared to the heart issues lying underneath. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:1-2)
So I’m resolving to focus more on God perfecting me and less on me perfecting my approach to conflict resolution. Who knows? Maybe the conflicts will be resolved accordingly.
Taking it One-to-One:
- In what ways can you and your spouse relate to this article? Discuss together.
- Where would you say your attention focuses during conflicts: on the other person’s faults, on the conflict itself, or on your own heart motives?
- How do you see James 4:1-2 playing out in your own life? Talk to God about that.
By Karen Winkelman
We lost perspective at our house last week. Our four girls had a variety of issues and emotions we needed to deal with throughout the week. By Thursday I was in tears and by Friday I thought I was going under. Every female in the house had shed tears at some point during the week. Somehow, I allowed myself to be pulled into their drama and took their challenges of my ability to parent to heart. Everyone at our house suffered as a result.
In the end, the school dance we were preparing for did not live up to its expectations. A compromise made for a sleepover at a school friend’s party was not what was hoped for. We said ‘yes’ to the party but ‘no’ to the sleepover. Last minute plans to salvage a third daughter’s week required adjustments to our schedule. Then our oldest daughter, who is out of the house and on her own, sent us an e-mail. Apparently she has issues and drama in college as well! Ugh!
By the time the sun rose on Sunday it occurred to me that only heaven will meet or exceed our expectations completely. How did the emotion and time spent over the last week help prepare us for eternity? All the planning and preparing for a dance, a party, a sleepover, or a new relationship doesn’t keep us from being disappointed in that event or person in some way. In the midst of these earthly preparations, I needed to focus on heavenly ones as well. As a mom, I needed to point my girls’ focus upward—to keep us focused on what’s really important, not just caught up in the urgency of the moment.
Jesus reminds us of something similar when He tells us to not lay up our treasures on earth, but lay up treasures in heaven. My heart is for our children and myself to be developing treasures in the right place. Manicures and pretty dresses have their place in our world, but relationships and wise choices have more significance for eternity. When our household is caught up in a whirlwind of preparations and drama (and there’s bound to be a next time with this many girls and their hormones!), I hope I will keep my perspective on the eternal treasures we value most.
Lord, help me to keep my eyes fixed on You during these days my teenage daughters are in. Give me Your eyes to see through the earthly treasures and their emptiness and show us all the way to building up our treasure with You. Amen.
by Jen Powell
Just weeks ago the air was bitter cold and our lawn was crunchy brown. A turn of the calendar page and spring has sprung in the south. Daffodils, hyacinths and tulips decorate our neighborhood. This stark contrast is truly breathtaking.
It makes me think about the ways I study my children and pour the truth of God’s word into their lives… waiting, watching, believing & trusting for His work in them. I am sure we could exchange some funny stories regarding flopped family devotion time. We have one son that seems to appreciate the descriptions of adventure, battles, armies & weapons more than anything else we read. We have a daughter who squirms at those same details. We read on and do our best to engage. There are seasons that I wonder if they are interested or if they are “getting it”. We certainly have had our defeats in teaching our children from the Bible. But by God’s grace we have also seen incredible moments of fruit and growing knowledge of the Lord in our children.
As we approach Easter we have been talking a lot of Jesus’ sacrifice for us and our call to follow Him into daily sacrifice. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16.
This week God gave us a bright green stalk popping from the soil of our son’s heart, a sign of new life. Our family has had the joy of following God into a lengthy China adoption process. We are in the final stages of gathering funds and preparing to travel soon. We have a big garage sale planned this weekend and we are clearing out this house to bring our new kiddos home. We haven’t put any pressure on our kids to help. We were praying for God to prompt their little hearts. Our youngest son came out into the kitchen with arms overloaded with things from his room. He announced, “I want to lay down my life. I want to sell my stuff.” It might not sound like much, but in his arms were his favorite stuffed animals and more. Joy flooded our hearts. Jesus is working. God gave us a glimpse of His new life in our child. They are “getting it” despite our flaws and failures.
Again and again we praise God for allowing us to be parents and stand on His promises….clinging to Jesus every step of the way. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
Taking it One-to-One:
- How are you being intentional as a parent? Anything you’re anxiously waiting to see in your child’s life?
- Have there been any breakthrough moments lately that you can applaud and build upon?
- Any conversations you need to have with God today based on this article?
- How can you encourage another parent who might need to hear the truth of this article?